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Which Mess Kit Should I Buy?

Q: There are so many mess kits out there. Help!
— Lide, Atlanta, Georgia

A: Shopping for mess kits can be overwhelming, which might leave you wondering, “Why can’t I borrow a plate and silverware from home?” Sure, you can do that — especially when car camping.

Mess kits show their value in durability and packability. Many nest inside themselves so they don’t take up much space in your backpack. Some fold down, like Hydaway’s Collapsible Bowls ($20,, giving you even more space.

For a basic kit, consider the BSA Stainless Steel Mess Kit ($20, available at the Scout Shop). It’s durable, lightweight and comes with a 1-liter pot, fry pan, 12-ounce cup and bowl.

For more versatility on backcountry trips, consider a kit with more pieces. The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker ($85, offers a 2-liter pot with strainer lid, fry pan, two bowls and two 14-ounce cups with insulated sleeves and lids.

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